Breaking Lorca

Breaking Lorca

Book - 2009
Average Rating:
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A master crime writer trains every weapon in his arsenal on a crime against humanity.

A literary novel that treads fearlessly into one of recent history's most shocking moral crucibles.

In 1980s El Salvador, a young woman is detained in a government torture squad's head-quarters, suspected of supporting guerilla forces. There, a bookish new recruit, Victor Peña, is assigned to assist in her interrogation. Before they learn so much as her name - Lorca - the squad relentlessly break her, body and soul. It is a terrifying journey into human cruelty and courage, one which years later - in the pinnacle of cosmopolitan America - still haunts the tormentor as dramatically as it does his victim.
Publisher: [Toronto] : Random House Canada, 2009.
ISBN: 9780307357007
0307357007
Characteristics: 258 p. ; 22 cm.

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j
John_M
Apr 07, 2016

this book took me into the brutal world of civil war in Latin America. The victim came across as believable, the unwilling torturer much less so.

b
Bellster
Apr 21, 2014

Even before 9/11 and Dick Cheyney, there had been a long run up in the use of torture scenes, in Hollywood movies. Most scenes ridiculous, others less so. A disturbing trend, perhaps, as the need to shock and excite took a turn in torture's direction. This book does not merely have a scene about torture, it is set in that country.

The scenes of torture, and the rest of the book are very strongly written. It is probably irrelevant whether some will read these scenes mostly out of pornographic interest, or find them too disturbing, or not realistic. Essentially they are in service of the story, not merely added to it. The reader should not feel compelled to pick the book up if they feel they would be marked by the subject. There is not that much at stake or on offer here to compel a reader.

My greatest unease with the book is the relationship of the torturer to the victim. This is probably a useful device since at some level of generality we are all complicit. To see torture through the eyes of the victim is really to miss our place. It is terrifying to consider the possibility of being tortured, but it is more certain to have been the torturer. "Son, it hurts me more than it hurts you to hit you like that". Not to mention the ceaseless support for the police, and the torturers we send overseas.

While themes of this sort are interesting, there is still the relationship between the two people drawn in the book, and what it might be like in real life. The myth of the good hearted torturer is not one I want to spend a lot of time on. Even though the torturer may suffer in serious and similar ways to the tortured, it is not an experience that suggests equivalence.

s
sassymama37
Nov 11, 2010

Very disturbing torture depictions, but such a good story...very moving.

r
rblacklock
Oct 11, 2010

A deeply disturbing but brilliant novel. A complete departure from anything else Blunt has written, but well worth the read if you can get through the torture scenes. After reading, you start to appreciate what happens in other parts of the world and how fortunate we are to live in Canada.

s
StratfordFestival
Jan 15, 2010

See Giles Blunt at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival on Sat. Aug. 7, 2010. Part of the Celebrated Writers Series. www.stratfordshakespearefestival.com/celebratedwriters

m
macierules
Dec 05, 2009

Not what I was expecting, but it turned out to be a good read. I selected this title thinking it would one in his series of mystery/thrillers, but it was more historical fiction. It's about human cruelty and courage and redemption. I think the author could have spent less time describing the torture in El Savador, and more dealing with the aftermath of the events that took place in New York City. That was the more interesting and relevant part, and I felt that he rushed it.

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